Posted by: Chris Sandel | January 3, 2009

Best of 2008: The Stories

The quiz from a few days ago challenged me to think some things through that I might now have otherwise but there are still a few highlights that didn’t fit into the quiz questions.  Here are my final few highlights from 2008.

Most Surreal Memory – Last April I lived through what I thought for a few minutes was a bad dream.  It seems like most people at some point have had the dream where you realize you’re chewing on your own teeth.  One afternoon I popped an old starburst that I found in my Jeep and started chewing.  It was old so I figured it would be a little crusty but after a few crunches I realized something must be wrong.  I spit out the starbust and found a big white chunk that looked exactly like a piece of tooth.  Eventually I made it to the dentist and found out it was a white filling that had fallen out.  Still, chewing on your own teeth was my most surreal moment of 2008.

Most Frightening Moment– I’m a pretty level headed guy so I don’t tend to freak out about much.  My most frightening single moment (outside of the 1-2 week stretch when we thought there could be an issue with the baby) came in February.  I was traveling back from my Mega Church Student Ministry Conferencewhen I got a call from Melissa saying that she’d spun out in some ice on the interstate, slid off the road and through a fence.  She quickly said she had to go because a truck had stopped and the driver was walking up.  I myself had just arrived at Ohare to find out my flight home was canceled.  It sounded like she was ok but as I sat at Ohare and time kept ticking by and in the back of my head I wondered if everything was ok.  Then I saw a call coming in from Melissa’s good friend Bethany and for a split second all of the worst possibilities shot through my head (with rarely ever happens).  I thought for moment that she was calling to tell me something horrible.  Ended up that she was just calling to see if I’d heard any more word from Melissa.  In the end, she was able to drive the car the remaining 45 miles home (even though the car was totaled from body damage) and was just fine.  For a split second though, I was kind of freaked out.

Most Memorable Day – I think the most memorable full day (outside of anything baby related) has to be one of our main road trip days that we spent in Boston.  We  began the day in typical tourist fashion, visiting the JFK museum.  From there we grabbed lunch and headed over to visit the Harvard campus.  It happened to show up right in the middle of graduation.  Not only that, the speaker was J.K. Rowling.  It was crazy!  We snuck into a building past security and stayed for her speech, with was really pretty good.  After that we took the subway to Fenway for a Red Sox game.  Outside, we  bumped into author Stephen King.  In the first two innings we saw a home run over the green monster and a  big brawl between the Red Sox and Devil Rays that made big news nationally.  It was a VERY eventful day.

Best Ministry Moment– I don’t think I really got a chance to write about this here but I think my personal ministry highlight this year was from a short summer mission trip we took to Champaign-Urbana.  We’ve taken a small group of Jr. Highers for several years now but this year I decided to just take our student leadership team.  One of the days we were there was spent at Salt & Light, one of the largest  food and clothing distribution centers in Central Illinois.  In the morning the kids helped organize clothes.  After lunch they opened up and hundreds of people came through to get food and clothing.  When they did, our kids would push carts of food out to their cars and, if they felt comfortable, they were instructed to offer to pray for the people.  I figured our kids would be too shy and they wouldn’t really ask much.  Boy was our wrong.  Several of our most shy girls jumped right in and pushed themselves to pray for people and they had some great experiences.  Another of our girls worked so hard organizing clothes and putting together food baskets that she didn’t even want to stop when everyone else took a break. 
The best part though was our time together that night.  We played some fun games together (we played sardines at the Campus House were I lived for a few years in college) and then we all sat down in a big circle together.  God really provided that time because I just threw it open for discussion and I asked them what impacted them that day.  Everyone had something fairly deep and spiritual to say (many of them had multiple things) which is rare for Jr. High students.  I asked them to talk about how they’d seen others in the group serving and everyone got affirmed by their peers.  At the end, I prayed for each one of them by name.  After I said amen, one of the girls who before then I would have probably called the meekest one, spoke up and asked if she could say something.  She went on to say some really nice things about me and then she said they needed to pray for me too.  That wasn’t the first time students had prayed for me or anything.  But it isn’t every day that a Jr. High student speaks up after a group time is wrapped up (when we were planning to watch a movie or go play wii) and goes out of their way to thank you and pray for you.  That just doesn’t happen much with Jr. Highers.  Since then I’ve seen each of the student grow a lot and as we’ve talked I’ve heard them bring up the trip on multiple occasions.  I really did feel honored to be a part of that group and to get to see such immediate growth in those kids.  Jr. High is such a foundational time that it isn’t often that you get to see a lot of results.  I’m so thankful though, that God gave me that trip and those kids.

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